Black Voices – Kevin Rucker

On Tuesday June 2nd, I, like many others, posted a black square to my Instagram with the #BlackOutTuesday hashtag. Almost immediately I realized that this was not nearly doing enough and that if I truly feel Black Lives Matter then I have to do something more. I figure something I do have is my modest platform here at DC Heavy Metal. With that in mind I started reaching out to some of my black friends to ask them if they’d like to make a guest post on DCHM. I told them they can write something, make a video or audio recording, share links, literature, whatever. The subject matter of each post is entirely up to them, it does not have to be related to metal or even the DMV area. This is the fourth of this series of posts I’m calling Black Voices and I hope you take the time to listen to them. You can find all the posts in this series using the Black Voices tag here.

For this post Kevin Rucker, who goes by EndlessCemetery on Twitch, took the time to talk about some of his experiences as a musician and metal fan in the Baltimore metal scene. I’ve followed him for a while on Twitch because he regularly has interesting discussions and takes on racism and other social issues on his streams, sometimes while he’s playing video games, sometimes not. When the recent protests began after George Floyd’s murder he has even streamed live from the streets of Baltimore. Fascinating stuff and I highly recommend you give him a follow on Twitch. The beginning of this video is clipped a little but that doesn’t change the overall message. And be sure to read the transcription below if you prefer that.

…/endlesscemetery Here I play video games obviously but I also have lots of discussions about income inequality, police brutality, white supremacy, socialism, all that good stuff. All the stuff we know and love. But I wanted to make this video for Chris from DC Heavy Metal for his Black Voices platform. Shout out to Chris for providing a platform like that for people like me to really speak out and get some of our experiences and some of the things that we’ve seen and done out there. For anyone who wonders why I am even relevant to this conversation, my name is Kevin obviously like I said, but I’ve been playing metal, or rather I was a metal musician in the Baltimore area for the better part of the last 15 years. I’ve been a fan of metal for probably the last 20 years. My first ever show was out in Baltimore County at a venue that no longer exists that used to be called the Recher Theatre. I went to see Soulfly, Throwdown, Blood Simple and Incite I believe. It was like Max Cavalera’s son’s band. I was straight edge at the time so I was really excited to see Throwdown but of course Soulfly were really cool. This was before there were any rumblings of Cavalera Conspiracy or anything like that, back in 2005 I believe. The very few Sepultura covers that they did were very, very exciting. Very, very cool to me. My first show [performing in a band] in Baltimore was a pay-to-play show at the Recher unfortunately but the first show that I would say had any actual meaning to me would have been, I played at Sidebar in 2007 with my first band Reanimator. We played with Infernal Stronghold, Revocation and Swashbuckle. Two of those bands are now like blown up and stuff. It’s interesting. Infernal Stronghold [is] still one of my favorite bands of all time of course. Shout out to them. Like I said that was in 2007 and I’ve just kind of been rockin’ in the scene since, whether I’ve been going to shows or playing shows. Obviously I’m a big fan of [Maryland] Deathfest. Deathfest was the second show I’ve ever been to, back in 2006. I’ll get to them in a moment.

But my experience in the metal scene had always, up until pretty recently I’ve felt to be very inclusive but I’d realized that it was because of the niche of the scene that I was subsisting in. Here in Baltimore there was a lot of overlap with the grind and punk and metal scene and stuff. Plus just by virtue of Baltimore being a small city it has a pretty tight knit community. So the only times I ever felt any weird energy would be like out of towners and stuff. But I actually stopped playing metal briefly in 2016 due to some fuckery, for lack of a better word, pardon my language, that I encountered while in one of my previous bands, a band called Bestial Evil. I won’t get super, super deep into that here and now. If you’d like, cause I have talked about it so much, especially here on this stream, on this platform. If you’d like some of the details on that you can Google, there’s an Idavox article [here] that was done about the Wolves of Vinland and the band was called Bestial Evil. If you Google Bestial Evil Wolves Of Vinland I’m sure you’ll find the article. But my exposure to that and just the general attitude, the cavalier attitude towards white supremacy in the metal scene really turned me off, left a really bad taste in my mouth and caused me to really step back from everything. I started playing electronic music which is, I’m noticing, kind of the story for everyone who moves away from metal, at least as their main subgenre. Being that I’ve been a video gamer for even longer than I’ve been a metal head or anything related to metal it was just kind of a natural transition and I really enjoy that scene as well. It’s a much more inclusive scene. A lot of the elitism that you would experience in metal where it’s like, if you haven’t heard of a specific band or you don’t own a specific band’s merch or whatever, then you’re not a true metal head right? You’re a poser. Whereas, at least in my experience, in the electronic music scene if you’ve never heard of an artist that’s an exciting moment because that’s a moment where a person gets to put you on, show you some music, give you some experiences that you’ve never had before.

On that note, I guess the main thing I really want to talk about and get out there is obviously for people to be more aware and more critical of the white supremacy being in the metal scene and that kind of just being allowed to float out there in the ether. Cause for a very long time the sentiment was that if you just ignore it it will go away, which is not the case at all. If you give these people an inch they take a mile. I don’t want to name drop anyone in specific, but I remember seeing like a Metal Sucks article or something from a very prominent metal artist that was just talking about how if you don’t like NSBM then you just shouldn’t buy it but it’s like not a big deal, right? And now that same artist, now that the Black Lives Matter movement is fashionable and we’re having all these global conversations about anti-blackness, that same artist is now doing a Metal Versus Racism thing, what have you. But when we’re talking about Deathfest it needs to be known that Maryland, the state, has the highest rate of black male youth incarceration of the entire country. And Baltimore specifically has very, very serious issues with police accountability and the way the police interact with citizens here. So it is especially disturbing to me, the cavalier attitude, that booking has done with, in regards to Maryland Deathfest and some of the bands that they allow to play or promote. A prime example being, if we’re talking about more or less ancient history at this point, Deströyer 666 headlining, and if not headlining having like a major stage or what have you. But more recently, as in the last year, I was working security at the pre-fest party for the band Dumal that played which is, I’ve referred to them as an NSBM band in the past. I should maybe discern that a little bit more in saying that while nothing about their lyrical content or their style of music specifically has any political or national socialist leanings per se, the imagery that they used in at least one of their tapes as well as the label that they choose to release that music on, or at least chose to release that music on, was very, very definitely, unquestionably at the very least sympathetic toward some of the ideals of white supremacy when it comes to historical context. So like bands like antebellum bands, actual NSBM bands, what have you. So that left a really bad taste in my mouth because it was also coming at a time right when I was starting to want to kind of get back into metal. The last band I played in is a band called Embalming Process which is like a goregrind band that I kind of burnt out on but I was coming around and getting excited to write music for it again, partially because I thought that my personal whistle blowing, as far as bands being involved in white supremacy, being prominent bands and their shitty politics or behavior being overlooked, I thought that that was starting to change a bit in the scene, and that was kind of a disappointing moment for me, personally.

The only thing I can really say moving forward is that the anti-racist sentiment is absolutely not something that can just be a flavor of the month, spur of the moment type of thing. It’s a attitude that must be a constant if we’re going to have a scene that is actually inclusive. And that just doesn’t mean, that also is not just for anti-racism, that’s also anti-misogyny, anti-homophobia. Obviously we have issues with those things. Anti-transphobia, all of these social ills, if you will. All of that needs to be confronted and called out and pointed out and addressed head on. It can’t just be a thing where, because we’re afraid to make waves as a fan or even as an artist we’re afraid to lose money because our fans might look at us differently if we take actually a stance on something for once in our lives. That needs to stop and it makes me wonder what the point is, who you would even be appealing to in the first place if you were that worried about losing fans or losing money or what have you, taking stances that shouldn’t even be considered political; black people are people, black people should not be killed, trans people are people, trans women are women, all these very, very basic things that I feel like everyone will say that they feel a certain way about but when they’re put on the spot, when the spotlight is on them, they want to keep quiet to try to appease and appeal to the widest possible audience.

That’s all I have to say. Fuck racism obviously. Fuck white supremacy. Please continue to do the work that is fighting for a more inclusive metal scene because there is different types of people who engage in nerd culture and they should all feel welcome. They should all feel like they have a place because we all have something to contribute at the end of the day. I’m sure everyone is a fan of at least something that was not created by [a] cishet white male. On that note I’m going to end it off. Thank you again for Chris for… for Chris for platforming me and giving me a chance to say all these things. It’s ironic that people are trying to say the n-word in chat while I’m trying to do this but alright I guess now I’m gonna move on to playing some games or something. But lilnutman420 I hope you feel good about yourself.

I’ll end the stream on that note.

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